Posted by: Tom Duch | February 23, 2011

The Return of Renaldo Balkman


NBA analyst Iron Mike is back, and just in time for Carmelo’s first game with New York. You may remember him from his mock draft over the summer, but now he comes baring good news for Knicks fans. The title was his idea for kicks, but he breaks it down realistically below:

After delaying the inevitable for the past six months, the Denver Nuggets finally sent Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks.  Though the Knicks would have preferred to just sign Melo as a free-agent this summer, the speculation over the next collective bargaining agreement forced the Knicks to send Denver Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, their 2014 first-round draft pick, 2012 second-round pick, 2013 second-round pick and $3 million in cash.  Accompanying Anthony to New York will be Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Anthony Carter and Renaldo Balkman.  I know at first glance it looks like the Knickerbockers sent everything but the kitchen sink to the Nuggets, but lets look at this blockbuster trade a little closer to see exactly why the Knicks did what they did.

First, lets look at the swap of Raymond Felton and Chauncey Billups.  I would consider this exchange a positive for the Knicks.  They are getting a veteran savvy point guard who makes good decisions, has played in over 150 playoff games, and is shooting over 40% from long distance this year.  I know Felton was a borderline All-Star this season, but he has been slumping as of late, and doesn’t have the playoff experience or the consistent jump shot Billups has.

Next, lets look at Wilson Chandler.  He has improved every year since being drafted by the Knicks, and has shown great scoring ability in the Mike D’Antoni system.  This summer he becomes a restricted free-agent and will garner a lot of attention from other teams around the league.  If the Knicks did not make the trade for Melo, and took their chances in free-agency this summer, they would not be able to afford both Chandler and Melo.  Therefore, Chandler was gone either way.

Now the trade pretty much breaks down to the Knicks getting Melo, Balkman, Williams and Carter for Gallo, Mozgov, three draft picks and $3 million in cash.  I don’t know about you, but I am pretty sure every General Manager in the league would do what the Knicks did.  The opportunity to obtain arguably the best pure scorer in the game (and some filler) for one starter, a raw 7-footer, and what should be some very low draft picks, doesn’t come along too often.  The Knicks were reluctant at first to give up Gallo because of his pure shooting and his improved ability to get to the rim, but adding him to the deal was the only way it would get done.

There was also a third team in this deal, the Minnesota Timberwolves.  New York sent them Eddy Curry’s expiring contract, and Anthony Randolph for Corey Brewer.  This was also a very nice move by Knicks GM Donnie Walsh.  Everyone knew that Isiah Thomas’ biggest mistake, Eddy Curry, was getting dealt by the trade deadline, and all Anthony Randolph has done is taken up residence at D’Antoni’s Doghouse.  Getting Corey Brewer gives the Knicks a solid perimeter player off the bench who can give them twenty minutes and ten points a game while also contributing on the defensive end.

I know the New York fans are going to have high expectations for this team this season and next, but they are going to have to show some patience.  They still need to add the right pieces to compliment their two superstars, preferably an interior defender and a knock down shooter to stretch the floor.  Hopefully they can add a third superstar like Chris Paul or Deron Williams in the summer of 2012, but the new collective bargaining agreement might not allow that to happen with the possibility of a lowered salary cap.

Does this trade make the Knicks title contenders this year? No.  Does it make them title contenders next year? Probably Not.  Will they be hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy and singing along with Kevin Rudolf’s “I Made It” within five years?  I’ll bet you a Melo sandwich at Carnegie Deli they do.


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